Kathryn Lopez

As its humiliation of Britain earlier this year proved, Iran is clearly in the mood to test how far it can go -- how much the United Nations and the United States will let it get away with. The answer appears to be, pretty far. A recent report from the International Atomic Energy Agency tells us that over the course of a year, Iran has gone from 164 centrifuges to 1,312. Maybe 8,000 by year's end? Clearly, we have no time to be messing around. I'm all for diplomacy in general -- but with Iran? The country fomenting violence against our troops and allies in Iraq? The country that wants to wipe Israel off the map? The country that answers our diplomatic olive branches with hostage-taking?

But we're in diplomatic mode anyway. A diplomatic mode that -- with the names Parnaz Azima, Haleh Esfandiari, Ali Shakeri, Tajbakhsh and Robert Levinson on our minds -- should have all Americans angry, nervous, and praying that the Bush administration is working on something good they're keeping close to the vest. Praying that they are as skeptical of Iran as they should be. Praying that they are willing to put in place a debilitating sanctions policy and send clear signals of support to the good men and women of Iran who want another kind of life there, free of the terrorists who run the country.

George W. Bush has had his good moments of leadership on Iran. A big believer in the yearning of all men and women for democracy, he's sent signs to the democracy activists and dissidents in Iran, some of them being held in the same Evin Prison some of our American compatriots are in right now. But, as far as we know, they are not getting the help they need from us, the West. The State Department presumably won't be as outraged as it should be by the abduction of American citizens because they care about "engaging" those who would rather talk about "Death to America." Something's got to give. And it better be us making them do the giving, one way or another.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.